David Harley was a dim-witted police officer played by Will Ryan who was later replaced by detective Harlow Doyle after some parents complained about Harley's poor representation of authority. David Harley left Odyssey and all of his episodes were withdrawn from release or remade to exclude him.
In 1987 and early 1988, Officer Harley was an Odyssey regular, along with John Whittaker and Tom Riley, appearing in eight of the first fifteen episodes of the series. The writers initially intended for Harley to become a main character to harness his "comedic potential." However, several parents complained that Harley's dim-witted jokes made him a poor representation of authority. At the request of Dr. Dobson, the Odyssey team removed Harley from the show.
After Dr. Dobson requested that Harley be removed from the series, his episodes were either edited to remove him or pulled from broadcast.
While the Odyssey video series was being produced in he early 1990s, a lack of scripts prompted the Odyssey team to rewrite several shows that originally included Harley:
- #9: “Doing Unto Others” was rewritten as #116: “Isaac the Benevolent”. Eugene (also voiced by Will Ryan) replaces Harley.
- #13: “Bobby's Valentine” was rewritten as #117: “The Trouble with Girls”. Jimmy Barclay replaces Bobby Novak, Jessie replaces Amy Duran, Eugene replaces Officer Harley, and Curt Stevens replaces Jeff.
- #14: “Missed It By That Much” was rewritten as #119: “Better Late than Never”. Officer Harley is completely removed and Robyn Jacobs replaces Rachel Weaver.
- #21: “The Case of the Missing Train Car” was remade as #118: “What Happened to the Silver Streak?”. Traci Needlemeyer replaces Warren, Doreen Charles replaces Tom Riley, and Curt Stevens replaces Officer Harley.
- #23: “The Quality of Mercy” was remade as #115: “An Act of Mercy”. Patrick O'Ryan replaces Officer Harley, Rodney Rathbone replaces Scott Williams, Peter Holt replaces Robbie Holt, and Bart Rathbone replaces Bill Williams.
- #24: “Gotcha!” was remade as #120: “Pranks for the Memories”. Patrick O'Ryan replaces Officer Harley, Curt Stevens replaces Philo Sanderson, and Lucy Cunningham-Schultz replaces Sylvia. The episodes is heard in flashback in #266: “It Began With a Rabbit's Foot”.
- #25: “Harley Takes the Case, Part 1” and #26: “Harley Takes the Case, Part 2” were rewritten as #121: “Missing Person”
- Certain elements of #70: “The Return of Harley, Part 1” and #71: “The Return of Harley, Part 2” were used in #255: “The Boy Who Cried 'Destructo!'”
The episodes #3: “Lights Out at Whit's End” and #11: “Addictions Can Be Habit-Forming” were pulled from broadcast. Both episodes were eventually released on the Official Podcast during The Washington Secret Word Contest in 2009.
The episodes #5: “Gifts for Madge and Guy”, #19: “Recollections”, and #54: “Peace on Earth” were the only episodes with Harley that were kept in the broadcast cycle and placed in albums. However, some of Harley's dialogue was removed from #19: “Recollections” in later releases. For a long time, it was difficult to find any episodes with Harley aside these three, although a portion of his appearance in #14: “Missed It By That Much” can be heard in a special feature included in the album The Adventure Begins.
In 2014 all Harley episodes were released exclusively to the Adventures in Odyssey Club in the The Officer Harley Collection, making some of the Harley episodes available for the first in over 25 years. Currently the original versions of #7: “Promises, Promises”, #12: “The Tangled Web” and #29: “Rumor Has It”, which all contain Harley, are unavailable.
Even though Harley had been just about removed from the series by the end of 1988, various references to the officer were made in later episodes:
- In the original broadcast of #37: “Camp What-A-Nut, Part 1”, Whit tells Donny McCoy about how Officer Harley and Steve Larson were trapped by a bear in #25: “Harley Takes the Case, Part 1”. This line was later removed.
- In #56: “By Faith, Noah”, the permit tells Noah, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse," Harley's signature line.
- In #112: “Curious, Isn't It?”, Eugene has a brief phone conversation with Harley on the phone, although his voice is not heard.
- In #173: “A Thanksgiving Carol”, Jacob Arley, a ghost, appears in a KYDS Radio production.
- In #196: “Harlow Doyle, Private Eye”, Whit mentions that Harlow Doyle looks familiar. This is a reference to the fact that Harlow, who was also played by Will Ryan, replaced Harley.
Harley's replacement, Harlow Doyle, continues to be on the show continuously since his introduction in #196: “Harlow Doyle, Private Eye” (1992). Harlow has been known to say "ignorance is no excuse," a reference to Harley's signature line, "ignorance of the law is no excuse."
|“|| John Whittaker: Now, the first thing people usually do at a time like this is panic.
David Harley: Then it looks like we're doing things in the right order!
|“|| Connie Kendall: Alright, everybody on the bus!
David Harley: Okay, I don't want a riot here! I want everybody to line up alphabetically according to their height!
|“|| David Harley: I've got just the thing! The NFL diet!
Joey Donovan: NFL? Like the Football league?
David Harley: Yeah! Every time she reaches for food, <chuckles> you tackle her!
|“|| David Harley: Oh, hi Whit! Caught this suspect committing a 414.
John Whittaker: What's a 414?
David Harley: Grand Theft Mozzarella!
|“|| David Harley: You're not making a movie without a permit, are you?
Bobby Novak: Permit? I didn't know you needed a permit to make a movie!
John Whittaker: You don't, Bobby. Not as long as you own private property or you're not obstructing traffic or something like that. Isn't that right, Officer Harley?
David Harley: Well, it isn't exactly wrong. Not that it couldn't be, mind you 'cause ignorance of the law is no excuse! But as far as wrong goes, yes, you're right!
|“|| David Harley: Freeze! Police! Back away slowly, go for the cheese and you'll have it!
|“|| David Harley: Communicate, communicate, just open up your heart and communicate. We gotta share ideas, there’s no time to wait, and the best way to do it is communicate.